Portuguese Slang, Insults, & Swear Words (You Probably Don’t Need to Know)

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Written by: | Last updated on February 8, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 5 minutes

Welcome to the colorful and occasionally rambunctious world of European Portuguese slang and those words your Portuguese grandma might gasp at! Let’s forget about the standard Portuguese courses (and other great resources) for a second and take a look at the fun side of European Portuguese.

In this article, we’ll dive into the expressions that make Portuguese locals chuckle, the idioms that are as Portuguese as pastel de nata, and yes, even those words that might earn you a disapproving tsk-tsk if uttered in the wrong company. But fear not! We’re here to navigate the nuances of when and how these phrases are used, so you can banter with the best of them without causing a scandal.

Prepare to add a sprinkle of spice to your vocab and maybe even impress—or shock—the locals on your next visit to the land of fado and football. Let’s talk Portuguese, the fun way!

Thanks to Practice Portuguese for several of these. Did you know Portugalist readers get access to this Portuguese language learning tool for less? (see here).


Pronounced as feesh (almost sounding like fish), fixe means cool or nice and it’s a word you’ll commonly hear in European Portuguese (Brazilians use the word “legal” instead).

  • Está-se fixe: it’s cool.
  • Tá-se fixe: cool


Top means great just like ótimo.

  • Este bar é top: this bar is great.


Giro (masculine) or gira (feminine) means pretty or cute. Fofo and fofa are also used.

  • Ele é giro: He’s cute.
  • Era bem fofo: It was really cute.


Bué means a lot, and it basically means a lot or very. It’s commonly used with the word fixe.

  • É bué fixe: it’s very cool


Typical tugas statues

Tuga is slang for a typical Portuguese person (a Portuga). This used to be a derogatory that was mainly used in the former Portuguese African colonies, but is a word that the Portuguese have decided to own.  

Pá is a commonly used slang word. It’s usually put on the end of a sentence to mean man. It’s easy to remember because it sounds like pal, which in some English-speaking countries is added onto the end of a sentence.

  • Não tenho problemas contigo, pá: I don’t have a problem with you, man


Merda literally means shit although depending how it’s used it can mean fuck. It’s commonly used in Portugal, and isn’t really considered that offensive. 

  • Merda: Shit, fuck, crap.
  • Um problema de merda: A fucking problem.
  • Que merda é esta?: What the fuck is this?


Gajo and tipo are two commonly used words which mean guy (or dude if you’re American).

  • Há um gajo: there’s this guy.


Literally caralho means cock or dick, but it’s often used to mean fuck instead. Vai pró caralho, for example, literally means go to dick, but probably would translate better as go fuck yourself.

Often you’ll see “de caralho” after a word and it’s essentially the same as adding the word fucking before it. É do caralho, for example, means it’s fucking hard. You can also say é fodido or é uma foda. Basically, the Portuguese have a lot of expressions for how fucking hard things are.  


Foder meaning “to fuck” is a word that you’ll often hear in Portugal, usually when someone is telling you to go fuck yourself.

Fodido means fucked, and normally it’s used to say that something is fucked. It comes from the verb foder.

  • Vai-te foder: Go fuck yourself.
  • Vão se foder: Fuck you.
  • Está fódido: It’s fucked.


Porra is another word meaning fuck and one that comes up often.

  • Fique em casa, porra: Stay the fuck home.

Words for dick

Small, phallic-shaped pottery from Caldas da Rainha
A pottery shop specialising in phallic-shaped pottery in Caldas da Rainha – © Portugalist

There are a lot of different words for dick in Portuguese. Here are just a few:

  • Piço 
  • Caralho
  • Pila

Words for pussy

Similarly, there are several slang words for pussy in Portuguese.

  • Xaroca
  • Pachaça
  • Pêssego
  • Cona (similar to cunt, so quite offensive).

Vai mamar na quinta pata do cavalo

Vai mamar na quinta pata do cavalo means go suck on the 5th leg of a horse. It’s probably something you’ll never hear, but it’s so poetic it had to be included.

As to whether anyone actually says this, that depends on who you ask. There is a similar expression, vai mamar na cona da tia, which is a lot more offensive but maybe more suitable if there are no horses nearby. 


Puta means whore. 

Filho da puta

Filho de puta means “son of a whore,” “son of a bitch,” or “motherfucker”. Basically, it’s an insult against the other person’s mother. While you can call someone a filho da puta in a jokey way, it’s very offensive if it’s not in a fun context.

Weirdly, puto is slang for boy (and not considered offensive).

  • Aquele filho da puta: That son of a bitch.


Cabrão means asshole or bastard. 

  • És um cabrão: you’re an asshole.


The English equivalent of paneleiro would be something like fag or queer. It’s not a very nice or politically correct term, but one that you might come across. 

Brazil famously uses the word bicha to mean queer whereas that means a queue or line in Portugal. In Brazil, they use the word fila.

As we wrap up our rollicking romp through the spirited slang and risqué repartee of Portugal, remember that wielding these words with wit and wisdom will not only enrich your linguistic arsenal but also bring you closer to the heart and humour of Portuguese culture.

Written by

James Cave is the founder of Portugalist and the author of the bestselling book, Moving to Portugal Made Simple. He has visited just about every part of Portugal, including Madeira and all nine islands of the Azores, and lived in several parts of Portugal including Lisbon, the Algarve, and Northern Portugal.

You can contact James by emailing james@portugalist.com or via the site's contact form.

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There are 94 comments on this article. Join the conversation and add your own thoughts, reviews, and stories of life in Portugal. However, please remember to be civil.


  1. I am in Maui Hawaii and growing up here with multiple cultures of immigrants of Portuguese descent the plantation from Portugal said the word ” kudish” , “ai kudeess” or is it “cu deesh”? All the elder Portuguese people say that it is a swear word and” don’t say that” but Hawaii Portuguese people never will give a definition of the meaning of this word. Which being a sarcastic rebel of a child to the present age of 61 , my Portuguese catholic religious family still has no translation, or definition of the word! have searched many internet sites for the word but have come up empty. I believe it might be a very archaic word. I think I am old enough now to say all the badwords in the English language and I frequently use the word ” Ku dish ” just because I think it’s funny that nobody will and or know the meaning except that it’s a bad word. Even if the meaning is some ritual voodoo word of calling up satan himself, I need to know and settle this matter because I still fight and get irritated with people{ family}
    that cannot give me a meaning of the word.

    • Corisco – it’s Portuguese slang used mostly in the Azores islands as a way to great a close friend or and asshole! You can say “Oi corisco” in this way, it’s like greeting a friend and saying “hey asshole!” But it can be used as a call out when someone is being a jerk.

    • Joann, we were just asking the ladies working the rummage sale in Kula what “Kudeesh” means. We really enjoyed your post cuz we’ve used this word many times from small kid time but neva know what it means. We still not sure.

    • “Tou lixada” means the same as something like “I’m screwed”, and usually is used either when someone fucks up, or when someone is mad at something.

      Depends on what is “screwing” them over.

  2. Found the definitions and explanations very helpful. Am an experienced Portuguese (Brazilian) speaker. But one word eludes, what is the ‘slang’ – ‘street’ – word for “Money Lender” or “Loan Shark”
    Thanks. Alan

  3. My mom told us our great-grandmother (from Sao Miguel) would call her “procadiha” (I don’t know how to spell it). She said it meant something like “dirty little thing.” Anybody know what this is?

    • P – oh – ca – ria or sometimes sounds like poor – caria ? Is that what your thinking? Its spelled porcaria and the definition is filth but what u said also fits.

  4. And i do have one word i am wanting to be sure i am understanding correctly…

    It sounds like “Shupa/Chupa”
    Which i know the meanings for chupa but is chupa pronounced like schoopah or is that possibly a different word?
    Btw this word is used all by itself…

  5. First off… These posts are frickin amazingly educational… Thank You to all posters (postee’s ?).
    Planning first trip to Portugal in October and this is more helpful than Language course I’m taking…

  6. My grandma was Portuguese and always told us to wash our “sita” and “coo” when we were little which was vagina and butt (I’m sure those are far off from being spelled right). Can someone tell me if that is at all correct?

  7. Some truly excellent blog posts on this web site, thanks for contribution. “My salad days, When I was green in judgment.” by William Shakespeare.

  8. My wife is Brazilian and her dad says Puta A LOT! or sometimes he shortens it to putz… pronounced pOOt. He says this even when our 7 month old is around and I brought it up to my wife saying isn’t that a swear word? She says no but I’m thinking yes.

    • No, it isn’t : it’s quite hard to explain. When someone shortens ‘puta’ to ‘puto’ (I know you think he is saying ‘poot’ but it’s just that we don’t pronounce the o) but anyways when someone says that it can also act as a word like ‘oh man’ to yourself or ‘sh*t’ if you mess something up. Hope this helps

  9. The word Caralho actually mean Crow’s Nest, like on a ship. If the captain would tell you Va pro Caralho, that was the worst job on the ship, which then transformed into an insult.

  10. Táss cuul, no one uses that in Portugal and you don’t write it like that.
    You would write it like this:
    “Está-se cool” or in slang “tá-se cool”.
    But they would probably say:
    “Está-se fixe” or in slang “tá-se fixe”.

    Pissa or pisso, meaning cock is also not written like that.
    You wrote it like this:
    Piça or piço.

    • I don’t know the specific meaning. But it’s usually used like “dumbass”. Maybe it’s because i’ve only ever seen old people use it and it always sounded endeering, but that’s the kind of context it is used in.

  11. My mum is from Madeira and I hear her use ‘caramba’ a lot, I don’t even know if I’ve spelt it right, but I’ve looked it up online and it means damn. I’m still not really sure

    • My mother was also Portuguese and used it a lot.. I think it’s just an exclamation followed by other words.. mom said (sp) caramba medaloschtead (have no clue)…

    • Yes, caramba is one of those “cussing” words you shout that are very “family friendly”. It is used like “damn” but it gives off the same vibe as someone saying “curses” instead of actually cussing out loud. xD

  12. Having an argument over the Portuguese word pumba, for a lack of better words dose it mean dick or ass?

    Please help me settle this dispute.

  13. my mom always used to tell me to “scenta habo” when i was a kid . i think it meant to go warm your ass up by sitting over there. is that right?

  14. Hi
    In Brazilian Portuguese, bicha is queer ( homosexual men ). It s not used to insult a woman.
    In Portuguese of Portugal, bicha is queue ( fila ).
    By the way “ pica “ in Portugal is injection ( medicament aplied with a syringe ) and in Brazilian Portuguese is dick..

      • In Brazilian portuguese you don’t want to say you’ll be getting a pica cause that means you’ll be getting a cock.
        You’d say “injeção”instead if you mean a jab or vaccination.

    • I’ve seen it used in the same way in Portugal. I don’t know for sure, but I think the Brazilian meaning is becoming more widespread.

      It can also mean a queue, but I think it’s safer to use the word “fila” because of the double meaning of the word bicha.

      Hopefully a Portuguese person can comment and explain this better?

      • In Portugal “Bicha” does mean a queue. They would understand the Brazilian version, but would more likely say “bichinha” instead to differentiate. It’s being reappropriate by the gay community to mean “Twink” or a more flamboyant person.

    • Lol Bicha … is a queue or line..will forever be…..

      If you are going to speak Portuguese… speak it authentically …. Original wins every time…

        • I am of Azorean heritage. In the Azores, they speak an “archaic” version of European Portuguese (some might call the dialect trashy), and I grew up in a New England city where a lot of Azorean people immigrated. I grew up thinking “porra” meant “damn” too, until a Portuguese person I worked with got very insulted when I used the word, and later told me it meant “cum”. Another word I grew up with that I don’t see mentioned here was “pumba” which was slang for penis. My grandmother used it a lot when I was a child, kind of like the way you might refer to a child’s penis when speaking to a boy in English as their “wee-wee”. However, kids and teens would use it too, but more along the lines of the equivalent to cock or dick.

          • Hey Eric,

            Thanks for sharing! I need to give this list a big update as a lot of people have been sharing new words with me 🙂

          • Porra doesn’t mean “cum”, it means Damn.
            Spórra means cum.
            Pumba doesn’t mean penis and sometimes people use it, but rarely.
            Ex: pumba já apanhou no focinho. (pumba he got hit in the face)
            Pumba já caiu das escadas abaixo. (pumba He fell down the stairs)

          • My whole entire family is from Azores and pumba is used quite often for penis so I don’t know what you mean by rarely

          • What about queima-rosca? Possibly from Brazil. I believe it means “thread burner”… but is slang like butt pirate or ass ripper in English. Not certain of this however.

          • Eric, I grew up near Fall Reev 😉 and heard my grandparents saying what sounded like “ay koo deesh.” Do you know what it means? They wouldn’t tell us!

          • I’m from Azores and “Porra” is no longer considered vulgar language. However, it is still considered in Brazil.

            As for a little boy’s private part it is spelled “pomba” or “pombinha” which is not vulgar however, not something you should go around saying

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